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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Rivian Delivers

Costa Mesa Center Helps EV Maker Reach 2022 Goals

Rivian Automotive Inc. (Nasdaq: RIVN) last week announced it had delivered a record 6,584 vehicles in the third quarter and said it’s still on track to meet its target of producing 25,000 electric vehicles this year.

Getting those new R1T pickup trucks and R1S crossovers into the hands of eager customers is where its nearly 32,000-square-foot service and delivery center in Costa Mesa comes into play.

The new facility is one of numerous properties used by Irvine-based Rivian; its local real estate presence is quickly approaching 1 million square feet, according to Business Journal research.

For now, the Costa Mesa site is Rivian’s most consumer-facing facility in the area. A new “Rivian Hub” along Coast Highway in downtown Laguna Beach, at the site of the city’s former historic cinema building, isn’t expected to open until next year.

Costa Mesa’s one of five service and delivery center locations for Rivian in California; the next closest delivery spots are in El Segundo and San Diego.

Rivian has 25 such centers in the country, according to its website. Illinois, Florida and Texas are only other states with more than one location.

Electric Boulevard

Located not far from sales and service centers just off the Costa Mesa (55) Freeway for other EV makers including Tesla and Lucid Motors, the center along Briggs Avenue is used as a pre-inspection and delivery center for Rivian.

Before vehicles are handed over to customers, Rivian will ship the cars from its factory in Normal, Ill. to the Costa Mesa spot, where they are inspected, charged and detailed. Repairs are also made at the local facility.

In addition to an expansive service area, the building counts a modest office and conference space for customers, as well as a small retail area. Test drives are provided at the facility, but visits require an appointment.

A Reason to Party

While many Rivian customers pick up their new vehicles on-site, others prefer to go another route; having the EVs delivered directly to their homes.

Some Rivian buyers even celebrate their vehicle’s delivery by hosting a party in their neighborhood, Field Specialist Andrew Dinh told the Business Journal during a summer tour of the company’s Costa Mesa center.

“I’ve pulled up and there’s been like 20 people, because all the neighbors have Rivian orders too and they want to see” the car for themselves, Dinh said.

With features ranging from driver assistance, LTE and Wi-Fi connectivity and a security system utilizing five of the vehicle’s 11 cameras, and plenty of accolades from the auto industry press for both its design and feel, anticipation is in overdrive for the company’s inaugural R1T trucks as well as the newer R1S, which is starting to ramp up production.

The R1T—which can deliver over 400 miles of range, rock crawl, drive through more than 3 feet of water and tow up to 11,000 pounds—has proven to be a hit among the burgeoning outdoor recreation crowd.

“People after this pandemic have kind of reconnected with nature and going outside,” Dinh said.

“Our number one buyer right now is someone who wants a truck that is capable of taking them wherever they want to go.”

Features for the R1T include a gear tunnel for storage and cargo crossbars for bikes and other equipment. A camp kitchen, which is soon to be available for purchase, includes a two-burner cooktop, 4-gallon water tank and collapsible sink. The automaker also has a rooftop tent available for purchase for the R1T and R1S SUV.

Prices for the R1T and R1S start at $73,000 and $78,000, respectively.

Upping Production

Rivian counts a backlog of nearly 100,000 orders.

Getting completed vehicles into the hands of customers is just one of the myriad operational challenges facing the upstart automaker, which counts a market cap of nearly $31 billion, the third highest of an OC-based public company.

Shares for the EV maker jumped last week after the company said it “believes it is on track to deliver on the 25,000 annual production guidance previously provided.”

Last quarter was a record one for Rivian, both in deliveries and production; it made 7,363 vehicles at its manufacturing facility in Illinois, a 67% boost from the second quarter. The company produced only around 2,500 trucks in the first quarter.

In order to make good on the 25,000-unit production goal for 2022, it will have to make nearly 10,700 vehicles this quarter. Given ongoing supply chain issues, that could be a challenge, analysts note.

Plenty of other challenges remain for the company on the production front.

The company intends to open a second factory costing some $5 billion in Georgia in the next few years. It could be capable of producing up to 400,000 vehicles per year when fully operational, according to initial plans.

However, those plans were thrown off track last week, when a local judge denied the issuing of $15 billion in municipal bonds meant for construction of the plant, saying it wasn’t proven that the Rivian factory would be “sound, reasonable, and feasible.”

An appeal of the ruling is expected.

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